Apr 15

Decorative orange dots

It’s Spring! Gardeners, everywhere, have been preparing their plants for this new season by pruning them. Pruning is the removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive or unwanted parts of a plant. 

The unpruned tree, for example, becomes an unfruitful, tangled mess prone to disease and death. But pruning allows the tree to focus its energy on growing and thriving. Pruning allows room for new growth.

Jesus says in John 15:1-8, “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken. Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relationship is intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (MSG)

Examine the fruit! If you have ceased to praise, you are no longer abiding. If you don’t have peace, you’re no longer abiding. If you are tired and fed up, you’re no longer abiding.

If you haven’t done any self-examination lately, now is the perfect time. Are you dragging around a dead branch of unforgiveness or a bad habit? Are you harboring a disease of complaining or cynicism? What does God want you to leave behind as we move into this new season?

Paul says in Ephesians 4:22-24,

 “Everything connected with your old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take up an entirely new way of life - a God fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (MSG)

Once you repent from the unwanted in your life, assess how you abide. Jesus reminds us that apart from Him we cannot bear fruit and that ‘abiders’ spend time with God, know His word, obey Him and produce fruit. What rhythms can you establish or return to that will nurture your abiding? 

One simple way to help us abide is going to a worship service.  Worship services with the church body is a rhythm that we had to forego for a season.  For many of us, that season is over! It’s time to encourage each other to return to the larger church body on the weekend. With the option to worship in the balcony (socially distanced with masks), there generally isn’t a safety concern.  But many who are now shopping at Target, can still be slow to return to church:) 

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

In this new season, let’s encourage one another to press on. To be unencumbered by sin and renewed daily as we abide In Him. Let’s mature as His disciples.

Prayer Prompts:

  1. Spend some time in reverence to God, acknowledging His sovereignty over everything. Remind yourself of truth from scripture regarding God’s sovereignty; for example: Colossians 1:16-17; Proverbs 16:33; Job 42:2; Isaiah 45:7, 9, 12-13.

  1. In light of this, what does God want you to leave behind as we move into this new season? A negative attitude, a bad habit, unforgiveness, cynicism? Perhaps because of your circumstances, you are finding it hard to agree with God’s sovereign choices for you. Perhaps you have justified your “natural” reactions to your circumstances. Are you ready to confess your unbelief and disobedience today?  Feel free to confess to Him as you sense His Spirit leading you.  

  1. Ask God to reveal any rhythms He wants you to begin (or begin again) that will nurture your abiding in Him (e.g., spending time with Him in prayer, studying His Word, obeying Him, worshipping Him with God’s people, and producing fruit). 

  1. Thank God for His faithfulness and His mercies that are fresh every single day.

Mardi Cork

Women’s Life Group Director